Ambulance applicants told to pay for training

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The Independent Online
WOULD-BE ambulance workers have been asked to pay up to pounds 2,000 out of their own pockets for a college training course, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

The charge is being levied on applicants to the Kent service, the first NHS Trust to charge new staff for training.

But the final cost to applicants for 12 ambulance technician vacancies could be higher still.

A pounds 1,400 bursary to help defray the pounds 3,424 total cost of an eight-week residential course would be withheld from those not making the grade.

The development was condemned by Dawn Primarolo, Labour's health spokeswoman, who said: 'No other emergency service expects its personnel to pay for training. It is unheard of in the NHS.'

The Kent trust has exploited a heavy interest in jobs in the service. More than 500 people have applied for the course, which would lead to a job as an ambulance technician, and the opportunity of receiving expenses-paid training as a paramedic.

The technician posts carry salaries of pounds 12,800 for the first year and pounds 16,000 thereafter. Paramedics receive pounds 17,000. Job adverts flag the possibility of a Government Career Development Loan.

But Ms Primarolo warned these loans were not guaranteed, while criticising them as discriminatory against women and others who might want to work part-time, because loans are assessed on earning potential. 'People are trusting they will get a loan,' she said. 'It is difficult to think of an unemployed person having pounds 2,000.'

But John Burnside, chief executive of the Kent Ambulance NHS Trust said the ambulance service was moving away from being seen as a manual/ancillary type of job to being a profession complementary to medicine.

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